RE: [hreg] Re: Composting Systems
There was a garden store in my hometown and on the countertop was a ruler mounted on a small DC motor. They’d buried a copper line with a one-way valve and a small in-line generator under their compost pile in the 1950s. The ruler had been spinning for 40 years at one point with only a few pauses to replace the motor and that sort of thing. I’m sure a larger-scale project with a serious up-front design effort would generate enough power to light a few bulbs, turn a fan, or maybe run a low voltage appliance like a cellphone.
The compost behind the garden store was large but they had just flung the copper lines down on the ground. There was no way they were capturing even one percent of the heat energy produced. One does wonder what could be done with something like that……
This is fascinating, Tom. With all the heat generated, composting could become a renewable energy project after all!
Thank you very much for such useful guidance.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Scarsella, Thomas M. (JSC-IS4)[TESSADA & ASSOC INC]
Sent: Friday, August 06, 2010 10:48 AM
Subject: RE: [hreg] Re: Composting Systems
We put our compostable materials in a pile, on the ground, up against a chain link fence. We always have three adjacent piles in different stages of decomposition. One we add to, one that’s getting ready to be dug out, and one we’re taking finished compost from. We sieve most of what we dig out and toss the bits that may need a little more time onto the pile we’re currently adding to. In Houston, it takes about a year for a particular pile to thoroughly break down but we always have some compost available and we’re never more than a few months away from a fresh batch.
Everything that can go into the compost does; we don’t worry too much about having a green-skewed green to brown ratio. Most of the compost goes back into the various garden beds. Any excess gets spread somewhat randomly around the rest of the yard.
Be mindful: Size matters. The bigger the pile, the more heat it generates and the faster the mass gets reduced to something useful. In a cool climate a small compost pile can sit on the ground for an eternity and take years to break down. If your compost does not get noticeably more compact after a Summer rain, it’s too small and you need to add more material to it. Beware of adding whole bags of grass clippings in a big clump. They will undergo anaerobic decay and get stinky-slimy before the good microbes get to work on them. You need to mix grass in with the top few inches of stuff to avoid that.
Jay – how interesting! It sounds like the chemical breakdown process eats up metal tumblers. The time frame you describe for vermicomposting is really attractive, as is indoor use. I’m inclined to try the Worm Factory, despite its name.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Jay
Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2010 10:31 PM
Subject: [hreg] Re: Composting Systems
It depends on how much space you have. If you have lots of outdoor space, you can't beat a regular compost heap. I tried several tumbler designs and had reasonable results. The tumbler is faster (6 months for quality compost instead of 12), but I am on my third tumbler and they are getting expensive. The metal parts keep rotting out, even the stainless steel ones. Maybe I should try aluminum :) The traditional heap definitely wins out as you compost more and more quantity, particularly homesteads or farms.
Recently I have come to like vermicomposting. That means composting with worms. I use the "Worm Factory 360". It can be used indoors with no smell, and is very fast compared with either tumber or heap methods. Compost now takes only 3 months. The 360 can handle about a pound a day. It's awesome for most urban and suburban people, but totally inadequate for homesteads or farms.
What I now use is the "Worm Factory 360" as the primary composter. I keep it indoors. Any excess waste beyond the 1 pound a day goes into the old tumbler. I will quit using my last tumbler once it breaks (I give it 2 more years, tops) and go back to a regular heap.
Good luck :)
--- In email@example.com, "Tyra Rankin" <tyra@...> wrote:
> I know this group is Renewable Energy, not gardening, but many of you are
> serious gardeners. Are there composting systems you recommend buying for
> household kitchen waste?
We use a container (small metal bucket, lid with charcoal filter)
probably from Pottery Barn for our kitchen scraps and coffee grounds.
Then we bury the contents in the outside pile from grass clippings.
> I know this group is Renewable Energy, not gardening, but many of you
> are serious gardeners. Are there composting systems you recommend
> buying for household kitchen waste?